Different Perspectives

This is less of a “story” in the traditional sense, and more like disconnected snapshots or vignettes. So, no plot or conflict or anything like that, but I tried to be as emotive and descriptive as possible. Possibly a continuing series, although for now, there’s just the two.

==

It’s early in the morning. The sun is peeking through the blinds, giving just enough dim, washed-out light to see by. I am supposed to be sleeping. Instead, I am standing, clinging to the top rail of my crib, my legs spread stiffly in a wide stance to keep my balance. The crib mattress is cushy and bouncy, and I sway just a little as I stand. Across from me the door stands silent and closed, not yet awake as I should not be. I want to cry out, to shout, to wake up the world to be with me and care for me, to entertain me, but I do not. I am bored; my teddy bear, blankets, pillows and half-filled bottle of juice are all laying in a jumbled pile outside my crib where I threw them, because I was bored. That was fun for a while, but then I ran out of things to throw and my crib is bare except for the crib mattress, plastic sheet and me. I let go of the crib rail and promptly fall backwards onto my bottom. I let out a giggle; the sheet crinkles under me as I plop down on my tush. It is there to protect the crib mattress from messes I might make, just as the crib bars protect the rest of the room from the messes I make.

So, too, does the disposable diaper I wear protect my footie pajamas from the messes I make. My thumb creeps into my mouth as I ponder the damp bulk between my legs. It has swelled to a huge size in the night, and now strains the zipper of my sleeper between my legs. As I rock back and forth on my bottom, I can feel the stickiness squish around me. I want to cry out, to whine and fuss to have my mess cleaned, but I do not. The world is not yet awake, and the time will come when the door awakes and opens and all will be right with the world. My thumb tastes funny, like it still has fuzzies stuck to it from rubbing it on my sleeper. I flop over onto my tummy, watching the door through the crib bars that corral me, to wait for the world to awaken. My heels rest on the puffed-out rear of my diaper, my knees bent almost double, and I kick idly in the air, because I am bored.

The mattress crinkles again beneath me. I should be sleeping. Yesterday, when it was naptime, I was not sleepy and spent my entire naptime in my crib, awake, fuming at the world for enforcing a naptime I did not want. I wanted to play, to make messes, to be out and about and active and naps could wait until I wanted them and it wasn’t fair at all. The crib bars did not seem impressed by the vehemence of my argument to them; they stood impassive and tall, watching my squalling tantrum silently. The door stood closed and asleep, then as now, equally unimpressed. Then when the world returned and the day went on, and finally I got tired, it wasn’t bedtime yet, and I suffered crankily through my dinner and bathtime struggling to keep my eyes open. The world did not seem happy with my ill temper last night, and sleep came quickly, but now this morning I am awake and ready to start the day and the world is not. The door stands closed and silent still. I sniffle, my nose running with snot and forlorn sadness at being abandoned so absolutely in this place for so long. My senses are deadened by the thick sleepy morning around me, for no sound penetrates the closed door, no smell passes through my sniffling, and the sight of the door and the bars and the room have not changed since the world went to sleep last night. Only the cool plastic of the crib mattress beneath me and the fuzzy comfort of my wet thumb remain undiluted. A string of drool slides down my cheek to the mattress, leaving a moist spot.

I push myself over onto my back, thinking to pass the time playing with my toes, but the white rubberized feet of my pajamas are thick enough to thwart anything interesting I could do with my feet. I consider trying to undress myself to get to my feet, but the flap over my pajama zipper is securely snapped and isn’t going anywhere. I drum my heels for a moment on the mattress in a weak imitation of yesterday’s tantrum, but my heart’s not really in it with no audience to impress. Instead, I get back on my tummy and snuggle up close to the crib bars. The door is still closed, mocking me through the cold bars. I can’t reach the top crib rail from here, but I clutch as high as I can reach anyway, tugging myself up onto my knees, leaning heavily against the side of the crib. My diaper sags under my pajamas as I pull myself vertical again, managing to grasp the top crib rail again from my new stance.

As I get back on my feet, clinging to the top rail of my crib, the bulk between my legs pushes my feet apart into a familiar stiff-legged stance. The same dim, washed-out sunlight peeks through the blinds, illuminating the same parts of the room. Time has passed, but it would be impossible to tell by looking. The only sound is the quiet crinkle-creak of the crib mattress shifting under my awkward weight… until finally the door handle rattles, artificial hallway light spills into my room from the opening door… and she walks in.

She is smiling cheerfully, if a bit tiredly, even at this hour of the morning. She is beautiful to me, her shoulder-length wavy hair freshly brushed and neat. I reach out plaintively to her, one hand still clinging to the crib rail. She tells me good morning, as she wrinkles her nose. “Uh-oh, smells like we have a stinky baby this morning, don’t we? Are you a stinky baby? I think you are!” It is said playfully, as though it were the most normal thing in the world. And, for who I am and who she is, in some way it is. Drool runs freely down my chin now, my mouth hanging open slightly. I jump up and down a little, anxious to be out of the crib and snuggling up to her. “Just a minute, baby, we need to get you in a clean diaper as soon as possible, don’t you think? Let me get the things I need, then we’ll get you out and cleaned up.” In her eyes, I do not need a name. ‘Baby’ is a title, a position that describes every facet of my being, just as she has a title of her own. There is no need for names.

She bustles about, gathering a clean disposable diaper, baby wipes, a plastic bag to contain my mess I’ve made, a basket full of lotions, creams, powder and other necessities. She stops at the snack cabinet on the other side of the room, extracting a teething cookie from the top shelf before grabbing the plastic changing pad and placing them all nearby where she will change me. Then, finally, once all the preparations have been made, she finally comes to me and removes me from the crib. I reach out to her hair, but she gently takes my hand and directs it elsewhere. “No, don’t do that. Hair is not for pulling, I’ve told you that before.” She hands me my teething cookie as she lays me down on the mat, and I gnaw busily at it as she unzips my sleeper and exposes the swollen and saggy diaper beneath. As she pulls the tapes open that hold the diaper closed, I can do nothing but watch her over my now drool-covered and slimy cookie, clutched tightly between two fists. She is my world; she has awoken and come to me in my need for her, and for at least a little while, I am the center of hers.

Re: Different Perspectives

The mobile goes around again, swinging the little birdies attached to it in the same circle they always fly in. The birdies never fly away, no matter how many times I watch them fly around in the circle. I’ve been watching them since I woke up from my nap. Occasionally I try to reach up and grab the birdies to feel them, mostly because it feels good to stretch. I never manage to catch any of them. It’s dim in my room, because Mommy keeps the curtains pulled over the windows during my naptime. The door is closed too, so it’s quiet except for the noise I can make in my own room. I wriggle a little on the mattress, and it makes a crinkly sound. There’s a damp spot here by my head too, but the crinkly sound keeps the wet spot from getting down to the mattress. Mommy dressed me in my teddy bear shirt for my nap. She calls it that because it has pictures of sleeping teddy bears all over it, and it goes all the way down to cover my tummy and my diaper. There are snaps right between my legs, which makes it feel like she’s always cuddling my bottom when I wear it.

Right now, though, my bottom feels smooshy and heavy and there’s a funny smell in my room. My teddy bear is in my crib with me. He’s green and has a picture on his tummy. His name is Lucky, even though everyone else calls him silly names like Mr. Bear. I ask Lucky if he knows when Mommy is coming back, but he doesn’t know. At least I can play with my toes while I’m waiting, because Mommy didn’t put dumb socks on my feet. Lucky doesn’t have toes like I do, they’re more like paws. I talk to Lucky a little while about why he never puts his paws in his mouth like I can do with my toes, but he’s not really listening to me.

The door opens, but it’s not Mommy, it’s Soh-fee-uh. Mommy says she’s my sister, which means she lives with us. Soh-fee-uh sometimes does the things Mommy does, but usually only when Mommy’s not around. A lot of times, Soh-fee-uh is gone too, because she goes to school. She talks about it a lot, even though it seems she doesn’t like school always. There’s a little bit of a breeze that ruffles her skirt and sends my mobile swinging again as she walks to the side of my crib. Soh-fee-uh has a different kind of bed for big girls in her room, along with a bunch of other big girl stuff. I wonder sometimes why the stuff in my room is different than the stuff in hers, but everyone says I’m special, though, so maybe that’s why all my stuff is different than Soh-fee-uh’s. She stands beside my crib, leans over the top rail and just watches me for a moment without saying anything, so I give her the widest, happiest, drooling smile I can manage. She smiles back at me and gently runs her finger down the bridge of my nose. It feels good when she does that.

“How’s my special little guy today, huh? Did you have a good nap?” Her voice is sweet and cheerful. “I think you did have a good nap by the looks of that smile, yeah?” She sniffs the air and her smile dims slightly. “Did you leave me a present? Of course you did, didn’t you? Did you know Mommy was going to dinner with friends and leaving us all by ourselves tonight?” The pitch of her voice remains cheerful, but her smile still looks kind of different, like she’s not as happy any more. She runs her finger up my leg and along the leg band of my diaper. “Soaked and stinky. Lucky me!” I try to tell her that Lucky is my bear’s name, that her name is So-fee-uh, but she doesn’t understand me. Instead, she lifts me up and, with just a few quick steps, crosses the whole room over to my changing table.

The surface here is crinkly and plasticky too, like my crib mattress. It makes a funny sound when I wriggle on it, but So-fee-uh doesn’t like it when I wriggle like that, so she pulls the strap over my tummy and buckles it to keep me from rolling over or making fun noises. I start to fuss and whine, but So-fee-uh reaches under the table and pulls out a set of keys! Keys are GREAT toys, they make noise, they go in my mouth easily, they have bright colors that I can see, they’re the best toy EVER. She gives them to me and I shake them to make a lot of noise. I can’t help myself, and I chortle with happiness. I put the green one in my mouth as So-fee-uh rips open the tabs of my diaper. I think the green one tastes the best, even though the keys are all pretty much the same. I suck contentedly on my green key, at least until I feel something ice-cold scrape across my bottom! I yelp and drop the keys over the side of the table.

“Shh, baby, it’s just a baby wipe, it’ll be fine in a minute,” So-fee-uh says calmly, but there is nothing to be calm about. I dropped the KEYS! She doesn’t UNDERSTAND! I start wailing and crying, trying desperately to get her to look for the keys, but she just sighs deeply and rolls her eyes. “We go through this every time after your nap, you always need to be changed, why do you get so upset? I swear, sometimes I think you like staying in a messy diaper.” She gives me another one of those weird not-really-happy smiles that she has. “Of course, maybe that’s a good thing, since it doesn’t look like you’re ever going to be out of diapers, huh?”

She guides my fingers into my mouth to suck on. It’s not nearly as good as the keys, but at least it’s a little calming. So-fee-uh finishes cleaning my bottom (and she’s right, the cold goes away fast. Why don’t I ever remember that?) and pulls the front of the clean diaper snug over my tummy. This diaper has bunnies on the front of it, except sometimes right before I get changed the bunnies get scared and run away. She fastens the tapes, then runs her fingers along the leg bands to make sure they’re snug and in place to keep any leaks away. It tickles, just a little bit, and I wiggle my legs to try and get away from the sensation. Then So-fee-uh reaches under the table and holds up clothing in each hand for me to see.

In one hand is a pair of blue jean shortalls with a picture of Big Bird embroidered on the front. I like the picture of Big Bird a lot, though the rest of the outfit has too many buckles and snaps and zippers that take forever to get me dressed. I’d rather be down from the table and waddling around or crawling on the floor, finding new things to figure out what they taste like. I can walk, too, as long as there’s something to hold on to and the floor doesn’t move. I stand up in my crib sometimes, too, even though the mattress moves, because if I fall over the mattress is soft. Sometimes I even bounce up and down in my crib just for fun, because it’s soft. In the other hand is a plain red T-shirt. Plain is kind of boring, but it’s a lot simpler to go on and off and I could be playing sooner.

“Can you help me pick, Joey? What should we dress you in today? Do you want Big Bird? Or just a shirt?” She waves them both in the air, like checkered flags, almost, and I can’t decide if I want just the shirt, or Big Bird. I start explaining to So-fee-uh why I can’t pick, but after a moment of listening to me she just sighs again. “Yeah, that’s what I thought, you can’t even help pick out your clothes. You must be the dumbest baby brother ever!” she says happily. I clap because she sounds so happy, and I like when she’s happy.

She does that a lot. She says something in a really cheerful, happy voice, because everyone talks like that to me, except lots of times So-fee-uh doesn’t look like she means it. Then So-fee-uh looks at the shortalls again. “Hmm. Maybe let’s just stick with the shirt, I don’t want you to be fussy all afternoon,” she says. “After all, it’s not like you’re normal, you don’t care if you have pants that cover your diaper.” She tugs the T-shirt over my head, unbuckles the tummy strap and sets me down on the thickly carpeted floor. For just a moment, I catch a glimpse of a set of keys on the floor that look almost identical to the ones I dropped, but So-fee-uh grabs them before I can get to them and puts them somewhere way up high where I can’t see them any more. I can’t stop myself from whimpering, even though I wonder how many of those sets of keys Mommy has, since she always seems to have another set every time I drop them or lose them.

So-fee-uh starts to walk out of the room, but I don’t want her to go yet and Mommy has a big wire gate across the door of my room so I can’t follow when So-fee-uh or Mommy leaves. Mommy’s already gone somewhere else and might not ever be back, I don’t want So-fee-uh to disappear too. So-fee-uh looks down at me and wrinkles her nose unhappily when I clutch at her ankle and cry, but she sits down with me anyway and cuddles me in her lap. I melt a little when she cuddles me like this, even though she doesn’t do it often. She talks to me, too, using words like “baby” and “hopeless” and “forever”, and it’s so gentle that it feels like a perfect moment that lasts forever. I start babbling back to her, but before I realize what’s happening she nudges one of my favorite pacifiers between my lips. I suck contentedly. I’m so lucky to have a sister like So-fee-uh.